Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 08:27 21/01/2015
Saturday's Trials card at Cheltenham promises some top class action with the highlight being the Betbright Cup at 1.50 featuring several potential Gold Cup candidates in just over seven weeks time. The £100,000 added event includes Hennessy Gold Cup winner Many Clouds, last year's RSA runner up Smad Place as well as The Giant Bolster, yet to finish out of the first four in three attempts at steeplechasing's most prestigious prize.
The ante-post market on this weekend's extended 3m 1f contest however is headed by the David Pipe-trained Dynaste who, despite holding a Gold Cup entry, is more likely to go for back-to-back victories in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival for which the grey currently disputes 5-1 favouritism with Don Cossack. The nine-year-old is a top price 9-4 for Saturday's Grade 2 race with Paddy Power, Stan James and William Hill following his creditable second behind Silviniaco Conti in Kempton's King George V1 Chase on Boxing Day but could be worth opposing on this occasion with the Festival very much the season's main objective.
With the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Holywell a probable runner in the Cleeve Hurdle on the same card and Many Clouds short enough at 3-1 to follow up his hard-fought Newbury win the two to concentrate on are Smad Place (one of our two ante-post selections for the Gold Cup at 25-1) and the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner Double Ross who looks the value of the race at the 20-1 available with Skybet, Paddy Power, Coral, and Ladbrokes who are paying out on the first three home unlike some bookmakers.
The nine-year-old will need to improve markedly on a couple of recent disappointing efforts but the son of Double Eclipse seems to reserve his best for Prestbury Park where his record since finishing eighth in the 2012 Neptune Management Novices' Hurdle reads: 1-3-1-1-2-3, two of those being in races at the Festival including when just two lengths behind Taquin Du Seuil in last season's JLT.
An excellent third to Menorah in Wetherby's Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase last November with Gold Cup favourite Silviniaco Conti behind the gelding has since disappointed in Haydock's Betfair Chase and when refusing at the second-last behind that horse in the King George. But if the horse can continue his love affair with Cheltenham at the weekend he is more than capable of springing a huge surprise against some better fancied rivals.
A big run from RSA neck runner-up Smad Place would see his odds of 25-1 slashed for the 2015 Gold Cup but the horse who has finished third in two World Hurdle's may not have reached his peak just yet and will appreciate the likely better ground come March.